Declining Alberta hospitalization rates expected to continue, modelling group projects

Data from the BC COVID-19 Modelling Group shows that a decline in patients being treated in hospitals will continue to drop in the coming weeks. It is welcome news to Alberta doctors who are still dealing with capacity issues.

BC COVID-19 Modelling group data shows downward trend for admissions

Health care workers in masks and face shields care for a patient in the ICU
Healthcare workers provide care for a COVID-19 patient in an Alberta ICU. (Alberta Health Services)

COVID-19 related hospitalizations continue to decline in Alberta and new modelling suggests that trend will continue.

As of Friday, 1,494 people infected with COVID were being treated in Alberta hospitals, a very small increase from Thursday but a noticeable drop from the all-time high of 1,675 on Feb. 1.

Compared to last week hospitalizations are down by about 120 people.

Data from the BC COVID Modelling Group shows that Alberta appears to be moving past the hospitalization peak of the Omicron wave, especially when it comes to new admissions.

"We can see the hospitalization data on a daily basis," said Dean Karlen, a University of Victoria physics professor and member of the independent modelling group.

"It has declined significantly since the peak. From about 150 admissions per day to now down to 100 or fewer."

Karlen noted that the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is already dominant in Alberta, but hospitalizations and cases continue to decline. 

Dr. Dean Karlen, a member of the BC COVID-19 Modelling Group. (Google)

Karlen says in another two weeks new hospitalizations are expected to drop to around 50 a day

That comes as the province expects to drop more restrictions at the end of the month.

"It is difficult to know what to expect as a result of the opening up of Alberta," Karlen said. 

Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury, a critical care specialist at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, thinks it may take time for capacity issues to fade at Alberta hospitals.

"Our regular COVID wards, where patients aren't on life support but still need COVID therapies such as oxygen or high flow oxygen, they've been running off their feet. The nice thing, though, is that there is some feeling that things now might be slowing down just a little bit."

Chowdhury is encouraged by wastewater data that also indicates Alberta is past the peak of the Omicron wave, though he expects hospitals will still be busy for weeks to come. 

Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury says Alberta hospitals continue to face capacity challenges. (Raiyan Chowdhury)

"That still means that there's still a lot of cases right after the peak ... so things are going to be busy for us going forward."

The province's dropping of restrictions on March 1 does hinge on hospitalizations declining. That decline must also continue in order for the province to determine a timeline to the third and final stage of its reopening plan.